Episode 65 – Trouble for GM, Toyota Debt Soars, Carbon Motors Cop Car

January 23rd, 2009 at 12:17pm

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One of GM’s largest bondholders has told the company to stuff it when asked to swap GM bonds for stock. Toyota’s debt level soars due to its ambitious global expansion plans. Carbon Motors comes up with a new cop car powered by a 300 horsepower diesel engine. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit with Pete Reyes, the chief engineer of the new 2010 Ford Taurus.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM’s restructuring runs into a brick wall. Toyota’s debt level soars. And Carbon Motors comes up with a new cop car.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, January 23, 2009. And now, the news.

Uh-oh, this could be big trouble for General Motors. The Detroit Free Press reports that one of GM’s largest bondholders has told the company to stuff it when asked to swap GM bonds for stock. The Pacific Investment Management Company, known as PIMCO, walked out on the discussions, which could imperil GM’s restructuring plans, which imperils its bridge loans from the government, which takes the company one step closer to bankruptcy. This is a dangerous development and one we’re going to have to keep an eye on.

Toyota used to be in such a strong financial position that it earned the nickname the Bank of Toyota. But as part of its ambitious global expansion plans, Toyota’s borrowing and debt load have zoomed from ¥5.5 trillion in 2000 to ¥12.4 trillion today. The company has ¥1.8 trillion in cash, which is roughly $18.5 billion, or about the same level of cash Ford has. Toyota still has a solid balance sheet, but not as solid as it used to be. And it will lose money this year, something that has never happened before in its history. You can read more about this on John’s Journal at our website www.autolinedetroit.tv.

WardsAuto.com reports Chrysler might sell TWO b-sized cars in the American market (subscription required). The company is already partnered with Nissan to build a small car based on the Dodge Hornet concept, but the pending Fiat deal means more small cars could be on the way. Could Chrysler get a version of the wildly-popular cinquecento?

Carbon Motors is developing a purpose-built police car. It’s arguing that law enforcement would be better off with a vehicle that’s designed specifically for them instead of modifying civilian cars. Called the E7, it’s powered by a 300 horsepower diesel engine capable of running on biofuel. It features a six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel-drive. The company claims the car will deliver 28 to 30 miles per gallon and sprint from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. It has a heads-up display, a backup camera and available ballistic protection panels. Pricing hasn’t been announced and no word yet where it’ll be built. Carbon Motors is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Canadian Auto Workers are balking at wage cuts for the Big Three (subscription required). They’re being asked to bring wages in line with US workers too, so GM and Chrysler can qualify for bridge loans from the Canadian government, reports Wardsauto,com. The union says no dice, but it is willing to make adjustments in areas such as productivity to help save costs. Chrysler is seeking $1.6 Billion Canadian dollars and GM wants $2.4 Billion Loonies.

GM Holden announced Cadillac’s introduction into Australia has been delayed indefinitely. The company cited the downturn in the Australian auto market as well as the entire global downturn as the reason for the delay.

Coming up next, a preview of this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit. We’ll be back, right after this.

On this episode of Autoline Detroit I’m joined by Jim O’Sullivan from Mazda, Pete Reyes from Ford Motor Company, Dan Neil from the LA Times and Rod Alberts from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. Here’s a preview of my interview with Pete Reyes, the chief engineer of the new 2010 Ford Taurus. We talk all about this stylish new sedan and how the company developed it.

If you want to hear the rest of my interview with these industry insiders, you can watch the entire episode of Autoline Detroit on our website this afternoon.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, but before we go, I’ve got to announce the winner of this week’s trivia contest. We asked if you could name the make and model of car Barack Obama’s presidential limousine is based on. As many of you responded, it’s a Cadillac DTS. Now, the presidential limo is a heavily customized vehicle that probably shares nothing with a production DTS. If you responded with Cadillac that was close enough for us.

As always, my crack team has randomly selected today’s winner from the pool of correct responses. Pookie, the envelope please! And this week’s winner is… Ron Brzuch of Canton, MI, congratulations Ron. You’ve just won this gorgeous blue model of the sporty 1972 Datsun 240Z, so enjoy.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s show. As always, from all of us here at Autoline Daily, thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

7 Comments to “Episode 65 – Trouble for GM, Toyota Debt Soars, Carbon Motors Cop Car”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Damn, I thought the question referred to what the limo’s platform was based on, which is a GMC truck not Cadillac at all

  2. Michael S. Khoury Says:

    John, where can I buy the 240Z model. That brings memories of my orange ’72 240Z.

  3. Tom Cain Says:

    Sorry, John, you blew it on the trivia contest! The Beast may LOOK like a Cadillac, but, it is based on a GMC truck!

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Wow that cop car sure looks like a Dodge Charger,I wonder if its based on it

  5. Sean Walsh Says:


    I looked at the Carbon Motors website and there is a lot of hype there. for example, a 3.O L diesel putting out 300 HP? Who are they sourcing it and the transmission from? Do they have a running prototype yet? If not, when? Do you know any of the senior managers and what’s your assessment of them. Seems to me from time to time there are similar ideas floated for purpose built taxis and they never happen.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The limo is base on the Chevy Kodiak/GMC Topkick C5500 truck.

  7. Richard Tait Says:

    I spent quite a long time mulling over picures of the new Obama limo and I’m seeing where it is a dead ringer for a Cadillac Escalade. Look at the headlamps, the grille, the bumpers, fog lamps, the doors, the door mirrors, and the door handles. A particular picture I saw of it (with an aide wiping it down) shows a waistline that was pretty high in comparison to the gentleman. I also read that it’s based on a truck platform so that would make sense. Grafting a DTS rear end (of sorts) to an Escalade isn’t that hard in the grand scheme of things. In any event, I suppose GM can call it a DTS, the same way Ford calls both the F150 and the F250 “F-Series” even though they share very few mechanical parts.

    300hp from a 3.0L diesel is more than possible. The 3.0L CDi engine in the Grand Cherokee is very close to those numbers. Improved intercooling, a larger turbocharger (or perhaps a second one), and improved intake piping would easily bring those numbers up. I think Chrysler/Mercedes will be providing the drivetrain.